The Official Private Opening of Old Alresford House Gardens

Article by Mike Ibbotson on June 28, 2012

June the 14th marked an important day for our long standing clients Mike Hall and Shuna MacKillop of Old Alresford House in Hampshire. The creation and restoration of their Grade II listed park and gardens, which we’d worked on together for 8 years, was complete.

The house was built by Admiral Lord Rodney, one of Britain’s greatest naval heroes, who in 1764 commissioned Richard Woods, a contemporary of Capability Brown, to design the grounds of his property. In 1766 Rodney was forced to rent out the Estate to escape debts, and Woods’ creation was abandoned. 238 years later, when our clients acquired the property, the Woods’ plan was dusted off and this ambitious project embarked upon.

The Original Woods Plan

Our clients’ vision was to restore the garden to Woods’ precise design, planting only trees, shrubs and flowers introduced into Britain by 1764, so Simon Hoare undertook detailed historical research, before our project team produced a masterplan laying out the ha-ha, sunk fences, woodland walks and 22 shrubberies as originally proposed. Working closely with us as the plan was realised, our clients also extended the commission to include the creation of a contemporary Mediterranean Pool garden as an intimate family area, a chalk stream bog garden with boardwalk and a formal entrance courtyard.

The Mediterranean Pool Garden

With Woods’ vision and the gardens complete Mike and Shuna wanted to mark the occasion. The Colvin & Moggridge team, some of our clients and business associates, as well as Woods expert Fiona Cowell and historian John Martin Robinson, gathered to celebrate the moment. Hal Moggridge cut the ribbon and officially opened the gardens.

Hal Moggridge

Our guests, then set off on the one-mile perimeter walk taking in the 22 acres of parkland and 13 acres of gardens before rounding the day off with champagne and Jacaranda canapés.

Beech Walk

A few days later the gardens were opened for the first time to the public under the National Gardens Scheme. Over 600 garden enthusiasts enjoyed visiting the Old Alresford House gardens, with many committing to come back year on year, so taken were they by the combination of an ambitious restoration project and dramatic contemporary gardens.

New Water Garden for Rare Hal Moggridge House

Article by Mark Darwent on March 15, 2012

Colvin and Moggridge have been appointed by Lord and Lady Goodhart to design a small water garden at their weekend house on the Youlbury estate in Oxfordshire.

We have a long association with this woodland house. It is one of only three houses designed by Hal Moggridge soon after starting his partnership with Brenda Colvin in 1969. Hal first trained as an architect, before pursuing his real passion – landscape design.

The modernist house is built in a glade in the woodland and projects out over sloping ground with the main living room on the first floor enjoying wonderful woodland views.  The house was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 2009, the listing describing it as: “a clean-cut, sharp piece of design that makes the most of good materials and careful craftsmanship, yet retains a warmth and humanity typical of the architect’s work in other areas of design”.

Mark Darwent and Eleanor Hall will work on the project. Mark knows the site intimately having been a tenant of the Goodharts in a cottage on the estate for several years early on in his career at Colvin & Moggridge.

New Coastal House Provides Opportunity for Ecological Enhancement

Article by Mike Ibbotson on March 13, 2012

Permission has been gained to build a new house in a unique setting on the shore of the Solent in the New Forest National Park. The new house, designed by Adam Architects, will replace the undistinguished existing house and a redundant derelict fisheries complex.

Demolition of the former fisheries and removal of the existing house will provide significant opportunities for the ecological enhancement of large areas of the site. We have teamed up with local ecologist Jonathan Cox to create a varied landscape of coastal grassland, acid grassland and wetland and enclosed scrub habitat – all typical of the coastal fringe landscape. This will provide continuity with a neighbouring marsh to the west and a diverse habitat linked to the wooded areas eastwards of the site.

Foreshore Sketch


Our design of the site will also:

  • provide a framework of mainly native trees, typical of local coastal woodlands, to enhance the general setting of the replacement house and boathouse and bolster the coastal pines with new trees as ‘understudies’;
  • retain a coastal grassland character against the foreshore and encourage typical coastal plants;
  • retain the stunning views from the site to the Solent and Hurst Castle;
  • recess the built structures into landscape framework setting of the site and shelter the house and gardens from wind;
  • enhance the surroundings of the new house with gardens for the owner’s enjoyment and a sheltered walled garden for cut flowers, fruit and vegetable production.

Colvin & Moggridge Help Secure Planning Permission for Reinstatement of Missing Country House

Article by Martin Bhatia on September 14, 2011

Alderbrook Park is an important country estate located in the Metropolitan Green Belt and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This wonderful ancient landscape was first enriched by architect Norman Shaw in the 1880s and then by the garden design of Percy S Cane in 1938.

The imposing Norman Shaw mansion

At the heart of Alderbrook Park was an imposing mansion. It was the estate’s principal raison d’être and was the central focus, both within the park and from longer landscape views. Tragically the house was demolished in 1970 and replaced by an inappropriately small house, completely out of scale with its parkland setting and unfitting with the historic landscape and its attendant original buildings.

The current house

Model of the new house by Pringle Richards Sharratt Architects

In 2009 Colvin & Moggridge were appointed as the landscape design specialists to work alongside architects Pringle Richards Sharratt, as well as a number of other carefully chosen experts. This design-team worked together on a proposal to replace the current house with one that would return the estate to its former glory.

Masterplan for restoration and improvement of the 1930s designed formal gardens around the house

This would involve, not only rebuilding the mansion house, but also restoring and improving the landscaped gardens around the new house to, once again, create a coherent and dramatic new setting. The new landscaping will also incorporate other parts of the original estate, now fallen into dilapidation – the walled kitchen gardens and glasshouses, for example.

Despite the Planning Officer’s recommendation to refuse the application, Councillors unanimously voted to grant consent for the new house and garden development. Success was in part due to two years of patient design development and attentive consultation with interested parties, but mainly attributable to innovative design, the use of ground-breaking techniques and the exceptionally high standards of the design team. This success reflects the talents of all involved in the project and is a great example of the kind of collaborative co-creation that we enjoy so much as a practice.

Norman Shaw’s original house was in its day “modern” and so the new house will be a modern idiom of today. Sustainability forms the heart of the design proposals for the new house and landscape. So strong are the credentials of the project that an education centre is planned, which will give local school children a rare opportunity to experience “sustainability” for themselves.

The granting of Planning Permission secures significant investment in the estate and safeguards this historic parkland for future generations.